ROCHESTER — Rochester City Council unanimously voted in February for the city to continue as a "sanctuary city" for immigrants and refugees, despite the threat of losing federal funding.
Rochester adopted its original sanctuary city policy in 1986. The policy aims to protect immigrants and refugees by ensuring they can contact the police and other city agencies without fear of adverse immigration consequences, according to a letter to city council from Mayor Lovely Warren and a council committee that developed proposed amendments to the 1986 policy.
The committee’s proposal was based on recommendations from the state attorney general’s office, according to Councilwoman Jackie Ortiz. The changes, which the city council approved after a public hearing Feb. 21, were meant to protect the city against threats made by President Donald Trump to cut off federal funding from sanctuary cities, Ortiz said.
Rochester would not be violating federal law by continuing as a sanctuary city, city officials said, since the policy does not prohibit city employees from communicating with federal immigration agencies regarding the citizenship or immigration status of any individual. Federal law also does not require local governments to collect such information or to engage in immigration enforcement, city officials said.
Mercy Sister Janet Korn was one of about 20 people at the Feb. 21 public hearing who applauded the city’s action.
"I sincerely want to thank you for considering this issue of sanctuary … (to) not put money first over and above the lives of men, woman and children who work so hard in the fields but also in our universities, our hospitals, our churches and nursing homes and so many places," Sister Korn told council members during the hearing. "If we lose our migrant workers, we also lose incomes from dairy farms, our fruits and vegetables (farms) and our burgeoning wine industry."